Ci Demi

WePresent of WeTransfer put me on a map that I didn’t know existed. I’ll always be grateful for that story and/or feature.

An ongoing project, and a decision: I woke up at 4am (about an hour ago from the timestamp of this post), looked at the pictures from Tourist of Disaster, and found what was missing, or rather, too much: colours. When I took them away, the whole series was suddenly full of the tension that I was looking for. Some will stay in colour, but this is now a black-and-white series.

Today I saw this kid with his pet pigeon as soon as I stepped outside the house. Sometimes photographs just happen; that’s why I have a camera in my person at all times. Also, I’m quite enjoying shooting black-and-white these days.

My three rules for existing as a career artist/photographer:

  • Just keep making pictures.
  • [Your work] will be seen when it’s ready to be seen.
  • Network gracefully.

I don’t have a black-and-white recipe for editing, mainly because I never really shoot black-and-white in mind. A couple of days ago, I finally made one and tried it on some pictures that had otherwise been discarded. This particular picture was saved by black-and-white; it really worked.

How I missed simple ideas and simple photographs. I had been chasing too complicated ones for a while but after this picture, I’ll remember to keep it simple. Also, I had to post a different crop of the photo on Instagram but if I print it, this is the crop I’ll go with.

A couple of weeks ago I did an Instagram takeover for a magazine. In the captions, I talked about my book; I think this text is, so far, the best I could do to explain what it is about. For archival purposes, I’m quoting it below.

So, what is it about? What is the story? Well, I’d like to first mention an inspiration: Georges Perec’s La Disparition (A Void) — you know, the novel that was written without using the letter E, at all. You should be curious about it by now, so please feel free to look it up on Wikipedia. It will shake your world, promise. This will all be very relevant later.

I always strive to photograph the eerie, the peculiar; even though my colour palette is rather colourful (which is mostly inspired from 70s giallos), I love telling a horror story through the absurd. Naturally, my book had to be no different; it needed an idea though — something about İstanbul, something about the end of the world.

What makes a city what it is? Is it the people, or what they built? Can these both even be separated? Some questions I pondered while coming up with my book’s idea. When I showed my friends the pictures that will possibly make the book, I got comments like “eerie”, “odd”. But when I asked “What’s missing?” they weren’t able to answer immediately, they needed some clues.

Limits fuel creativity — at least this has been the case for me all my life. I always put limits to myself while creating; exclusively using a point-and-shoot camera is one of those. So, back to the book: What was missing, really? The answer is in plain sight: The photographs are quiet, no more constant chatter of the city, no movement: Humans, running vehicles. No barks, no chirping: Animals. Then, a visual clue is missing; you ask yourself, “What city is this?”

There is this video game called GeoGuessr in which you are put in a random place in Google Maps and you try to figure out where you are in the world. What I always find interesting is that you can always guesstimate your country by looking at all the written language around you. So, naturally, I removed photos with texts in them. So, no language.

There are, however, signs of life in the book: construction sites and foliage.

I must’ve tried every web portfolio maker out there. The winner is/was Cargo. I had made the perfect (for me) website with it. It wasn’t a static portfolio either; I constantly updated bits of it, added new content, and so on. But then I realised that what I needed was a static portfolio. So, I switched to Adobe Portfolio, which is free with my Adobe plan. Yes, it’s not as customisable but I think I kinda like it that way. Here’s my website.

After walking around for hours, self-doubt crept in: “Can I not see anything anymore?” Then I came across this scene, I immediately stopped, and waited for people to disappear from my frame. This post is a reminder: I may not be able to see everything, but I will always see something.

This is not a “good” photograph by my standards (there isn’t a story, anyone could’ve taken it). But I took it in preperation for a fashion shoot. It’s colourful, the light is tricky, the camera’s sensor is very small… A lot of variables played into editing this one. I’m planning on using this as my “base”, and go from there.

The cameras that are dear to me:

  1. Fujifilm X70: It’s a fantastic little camera. Between 2018 - 2021, I used it almost exclusively. My addiction to 28mm comes from it. Sadly, I dropped mine onto of some rocks at a construction site and it shattered. It still works, but the lens and the LCD are busted. Its automatic focus capabilities weren’t quite good; in fact, I would miss a lot of shots — but also, my archive is full of pictures that were made with it. I’ve been literally yearning for a Fujifilm X80 for the longest time but the company seems to have no plans for it.

  2. Fujifilm X100F: Not so small, which is the reason I finally let it go in January 2022, but it sure feels like home. I’ve had 3 different copies of this camera. Whenever I got rid of it, I regretted it a couple of months later. I used it between 2017 - 2022. I shot practically everything with it, including the entire coverage of Sónar Festival İstanbul (2018). Do I miss it? Eh. After using the Fujifilm X100V for a while (I had loaned it from Fujifilm Turkey), it sure feels a bit archaic.

  3. Sony RX100M5: I had bought a copy of this camera in 2017 but it got stolen in December of that year before I could spend some time with it. Years later, in January 2022, I got another one and I have been shooting with it for the past five months. It’s lovely, the smallest camera I’ve owned (other than my brief fling with a Sony RX0 in 2018), and it’s really capable. It does leave me with wanting something more, but I will keep pushing its limits, until a more suitable compact is released.

That’s it: these are all that I use to make my pictures. The camera is a Sony RX100M5, and the light is a LumeCube. I do often push the limits of what the camera can do, but I enjoy being practically invisible with it. Everyone thinks I’m some tourist, this works in my favour.

Let me talk about a photograph. This is Stretch Out And Wait from my photobook project Unutursan Darılmam (I Won’t Be Upset If You Forget Me, 2019 - Ongoing). After my WePresent feature, this picture has become my work’s “cover photo” — anyone who shares my work includes this picture in their curation. Even while taking it, I knew this was going to be a winner; but in my depressed state of mind on May 20, 2019, I was sure that no one was going to see it. I’m quite pleased that I was wrong.

A certain sadness is attached to these days. It’s been, what, a month since it started? Maybe less, maybe more. I drink a lot of coffee, I smoke simply too much, I clench my jaw, and I don’t go outside to take photos as often as I should. I had some fantastic news this month (so massive that I can’t mention what they are), things are going pretty well — except, a certain sadness. Oh well.

March 22, 2021: Di messaged me for the first time on Discord. It was a link to Jakuzi’s song Şüphe (Doubt). She didn’t even know the group was Turkish, she just liked post-punk.

March 18, 2022: Di was with me in İstanbul, we were at a Jakuzi concert in Salon İKSV. I took a lot of pictures that night — as a former music photographer, I just couldn’t help myself.

The very first picture of my upcoming first photobook Şehir Fikri (Notion of A City, 2022). I took this picture on March 14, 2022 — right before we started editing the photographs at my publisher Onagöre’s office.